Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in Ohio

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In the Buckeye State, the employment and salary prospects for nurse practitioners look very bright into the future. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016) anticipated a 36 percent increase in openings for NPs nationwide between 2016 and 2026—the addition of 56,000 fresh positions—much more robust than the average growth predicted across all occupations during that same decade (7 percent). Also, the BLS (May 2016) reported that the 6,650 NPs in Ohio earned an average annual salary of $99,680, more than double the average salary of all professions in the state ($45,930, BLS). In short, there is expected to be a wealth of job opportunities for Ohio NPs in this lucrative field.

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses (APRNs) who have at least a master’s degree in nursing (MSN), although there is a trend toward the doctor of nursing practice (DNP). The DNP is the terminal academic degree in nursing, and several organizations including the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) have called for its widespread adoption as the preferred academic credential. As of January 2017, however, an MSN is still sufficient to qualify an Ohio NP for national and state certification.

Luckily for aspiring NPs in OH, there is an abundance of accredited online NP programs in the state. This guide examines the various online NP programs in Ohio, as well as how to become an NP, all credentialing procedures, and the scope of state-based practice in this profession.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Ohio

Pathways differ to becoming a nurse practitioner in Ohio, but they generally involve the completion of undergraduate and graduate programs in nursing; the attainment of both an RN license and national certification; and finally an application to the Ohio State Board of Nursing for advanced practice licensure as a CNP (effective April 2017).

Here is one possible route to joining this high-growth and lucrative career:

  • 1
    STEP 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree in Nursing (2-4 years)

    At this stage, aspiring NPs in Ohio typically earn one of two degrees: an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Both ADN and BSN students should verify that their program is on the list of approved RN programs from the Ohio Board of Nursing. Also, students should seek out programs accredited by one of two organizations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). For more on program accreditation, please visit the relevant section below.

    Associate degree programs typically take two years or less to complete, while a bachelor’s is generally a four-year program. Due to the hands-on nature of training at this early stage, there are limited online ADN or BSN programs available, although there are exceptions. It’s important to add that for those interested in enrolling in an online MSN or DNP program, it is advisable to pursue a BSN at this stage since it is a typical admissions requirement to distance-based graduate programs in nursing. BSN programs comprise hands-on clinical training as well as courses in health assessment; anatomy & physiology; microbiology; nutrition, health & wellness; pharmacology; biological chemistry; and pathophysiology, among others. As part of an undergraduate nursing program, students receive preparation for the NCLEX-RN exam.

    • 2
      STEP 2: Achieve RN Licensure & Gain Experience (1-2 years)

      To qualify for RN licensure in Ohio, candidates must pass the aforementioned NCLEX-RN examination. It costs $200. Prior to taking the exam, candidates must have submitted proof of having completed a qualifying program in nursing; proof of citizenship. RN candidates must also pass a background check and submit an online application. After getting RN licensure, many aspiring NPs choose to work for a year or two. Having one to two years of clinical experience may be an enrollment prerequisite for online NP programs, particularly in the neonatal and acute care specializations.

    • 3
      STEP 3: Earn a Graduate Degree in Nursing (2-4 years)

      Following at least one year of work experience, prospective NPs in Ohio typically apply to a graduate program in nursing. As mentioned above, they can pursue either a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP), the terminal degree in the field. There are six common NP specializations: adult-gerontology (acute or primary care), pediatrics (acute or primary care), women’s health, family care, psychiatric-mental health, and neonatal care. All graduate programs in nursing typically involve between 500 and 1,000 structured clinical hours and coursework in evidence-based practice; advanced pharmacotherapeutics; nursing theory; public policy issues & challenges; population-based healthcare; biostatistics; advanced health assessment; nursing research; epidemiology & social determinants of population health; and a capstone or original research project. Similar to the undergraduate degrees, prospective NP students are strongly encouraged to seek out programs accredited by CCNE or ACEN.

    • 4
      STEP 4: Obtain National Specialty Certification (Less than 1 year)

      Prior to qualifying for state credentialing in advanced practice in Ohio, NPs must have achieved national credentialing. The specific certifying agency varies by specialization, but the application processes are similar; these national credentialing organizations generally ask for proof of a graduate-level nursing degree from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited program; proof of at least 500 practice hours in one’s intended specialization; an application fee; and a passing score on a comprehensive application. These certifications must be maintained following the completion of hours of continuing education and the submission of a renewal application. The common national certifying bodies include:

      To learn more about the credentialing requirements in each NP specialization, check out the online nurse practitioner programs page.

    • 5
      STEP 5: Apply for OH Nurse Practitioner Certification (Less than 1 year)

      Lastly, NPs in Ohio must apply for state certification through the Ohio Board of Nursing. As of January 2017, Ohio NPs were able to prescribe physical therapy, work as primary care providers, sign handicap permits and workers’ compensation claims, and prescribe medicines without a collaborative agreement with a physician (effective April 2017), but they were unable to sign death certificates. For more information on the evolving scope of practice within OH, please visit the last section of this piece.

Admissions Requirements for Online NP Programs

Admissions requirements for Ohio’s online NP programs vary from school to school and by degree desired. As mentioned above, a majority of online MSN and DNP programs across the country require at least a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) prior to enrollment. This is because BSN programs fulfill many of the hands-on training requirements to prepare students for the rigors of a distance-based graduate education in nursing. That said, there are a few exceptions. For example, Frontier Nursing University of KY offers exemplary distance-base ADN-to-MSN and ADN-to-DNP programs with minimal campus visitation. For online NP programs based in OH, however, a BSN is a typical prerequisite.

Here are the common admissions materials for an online NP program:

  • Official transcript from a CCNE- or ACEN-accredited undergraduate program in nursing with proof of specific coursework (e.g., statistics, health assessment, anatomy & physiology, etc.)
  • Competitive GPA (e.g., >3.0 for MSN programs, >3.25 for DNP programs)
  • Proof of unencumbered RN license
  • Personal statement (500-600 words)
  • Criminal background check
  • A resume with at least one year of nursing experience
  • Proof of health insurance and/or immunizations
  • TOEFL test scores (for non-native speakers of English only)
  • Application fee

Finally, some OH NP programs may also call for test scores (GRE or MAT), letters of recommendation, or a candidate interview. Also, for post-master’s certificate or MSN-to-DNP programs, candidates may need to have achieved national certification through one of the aforementioned credentialing organizations.

Ohio Online NP Program Accreditation

Aspiring nurse practitioners in Ohio are strongly encouraged to verify two aspects of their programs of interest prior to applying: accreditation status and state authorization status.

As mentioned above, there are two main accreditation organizations for nursing programs in the US:

These organizations weigh various factors in their program-approval process, including quality of program facilities; student outcomes; program finance management; and curricula standards. All of the Ohio NP programs discussed below are accredited by one of these two entities.

Also, ‘state authorization’ status is crucial for students residing in a state other than the one in which their online NP program is based. Due to differing legislation regarding the provision of distance-based education, there is sometimes a mismatch between a student’s state of residence and the state in which the program is located. To get this information, interested students are encouraged to view program websites or contact admissions offices directly.


Influential Professors at Online NP Schools in Ohio

Cynthia Nypaver
PhD, CNM, WHNP-BC University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH

Dr. Cynthia Nypaver is the director and coordinator of the nurse midwifery and women’s health nurse practitioner program at University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing. In addition to Dr. Nypaver’s work with urban, resource-challenged women, she continues to practice midwifery at TriHealth Nurse Midwives and serve as an assistant professor. Her practice and teaching foci embrace various aspects of care such as perimenopause and menopause management; family planning; and preconception care. She’s a member of several professional organizations, including the American College of Nurse Midwives and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health.

Christine Colella
MSN, CNP, CS, RN University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH) Cincinnati, OH

Christine Colella is an associate professor and the director of all masters specialties, as well as the director for the adult nurse practitioner distance learning program at the University of Cincinnati. She’s the recipient of numerous nursing awards and has published a wealth of peer-reviewed articles. She’s also published a groundbreaking book entitled, Clinical Decision Making: A Case Study Approach.

Patricia Vermeersch
PhD, RN, CNP Kent State University (Kent , OH) Kent , OH

Dr. Vermeersch is an associate professor at Kent State University, where she researches the use of technology among older adults in managing health. She has published with numerous high-impact scholarly journals, including the Journal of Nursing Administration, Geriatric Nursing, and Telemedicine and e-Health. Notably, she continues to give her time to geriatric patients at a free clinic serving Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Lisa Echeverry
DNP, RN, AGNP-BC Kent State University (Kent , OH) Kent , OH

Dr. Lisa Echeverry is the director of nurse practitioner programs at the Kent State University College of Nursing. She is a two-time recipient of the Barbara Donaho Distinguished Leadership in Learning Award and has been with KSU since 2008. She has taught varied subjects including the application of evidence-based practice and organizational systems, and she continues to work in internal medicine for the Cleveland Clinic.

Online Nurse Practitioner Schools Based in OH

  • University of Cincinnati
    Campus Location: Cincinnati, OH

    The University of Cincinnati offers online master of science in nursing (MSN) programs—also available as post-master’s certificates—in three specializations: women's health, adult-gerontology (primary care), and family health. In addition to in-person clinical trainings at facilities close to students’ homes, these programs include online instruction in advanced health assessment; advanced physiology & pathophysiology; biostatistics; differential diagnoses; and healthcare policy, among other classes. An online psychiatric-mental health post-master’s certificate is also available, although it requires a two-day on campus intensive during the first semester.

    The university boasts a strong reputation in Ohio and throughout the Midwest, appearing in U.S. News & World Report’s top five online nursing programs (2017). Additionally, the university was ranked among the top 200 global universities, and its MSN degree was rated among the top 40 programs in the nation.

  • Kent State University
    Campus Location: Kent, OH

    Kent State University offers a 100 percent online MSN program (or post-master’s certificate) in women’s health, as well as partially online concentrations in adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology acute care, family health, psychiatric-mental health, and pediatrics. The online WHNP program includes 630 practice hours in approved clinical facilities close to a student’s home and coursework in advanced nursing informatics; health policy & advanced nursing practice; pathophysiology for advanced practice; methods of inquiry; and pharmacology.

    In order to ensure students have access to quality education and hands-on clinical practicum experience, Kent State has developed partnerships with over 350 hospitals, clinics, schools, community groups, and healthcare organizations, all of various sizes. These include organizations such as Aultman Hospital, MetroHealth, St. Elizabeth’s, ValleyCare Health System, and Lake Health, among many others. Additionally, the college of nursing at Kent State was recently redesignated as a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing.

  • Ohio State University
    Campus Location: Columbus, OH

    Ohio University offers online MSN, post-master’s certificates, and BSN-to-DNP programs in several specializations: family health, neonatal health, and psychiatric mental health. These MSN programs offer classes such as innovation leadership in advanced nursing practice; quality improvement & informatics; health promotion & disease prevention across the lifespan; nursing in the American healthcare system; and other courses. Please note that all online BSN-to-DNP programs require an on-campus intensive session at the beginning of each year of study. Please check out OSU’s tuition and fee table to calculate estimated costs.

    Since its creation in 1914, Ohio State has been widely regarded as one of the best institutions for higher education in the area. And the nursing school lives up to this reputation; for one, it engages in numerous outreach opportunities, including through its partnership with Making a Difference, Inc., to make positive changes and address health disparities in the Near East Side neighborhood of Columbus. Furthermore, U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the MSN degree at Ohio State as 22nd in the nation, putting it among the top five percent of programs in the country.

  • Ohio University
    Campus location: Athens, OH

    Ohio University provides an online MSN program in the family health specialization, requiring only three on-campus sessions. Courses include advanced maternal & child care; theoretical basis of practice; advanced health appraisals; pharmacology; and pathophysiology in nursing. This program has been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

    In 2017, Ohio University was rated by U.S. News & World Report as among the nation’s top research universities in its edition of “America’s Best Colleges.” In addition to this, Ohio University ranks 1st in Ohio for nationally competitive awards won by its students.

  • Cedarville University
    Campus location: Cedarville, OH

    Cedarville University, a Christian college, also provides an online family nurse practitioner MSN program with only four required campus visits. Specifically, students are required to attend four on-campus experiences, including a clinical orientation prior to starting the specialty courses, and during each semester of specialty courses. Both part-time and full-time study plans are available. To learn about costs, please reference the CU net price calculator.

    Cedarville was established in 1887, and since then has been educating leaders in the community. The school boasts a 97 percent career outcome rate, and consistently outperforms national benchmarks. U.S. News & World Report has also ranked Cedarville 13th in the Regional Colleges Midwest category in its 2018 ratings.

    These are the schools in Ohio offering online NP programs, but several out-of-state institutions also offer online programs. To learn about these, please check out the online NP programs page.

Hybrid NP Schools Based in OH

In addition to the aforementioned hybrid programs available from the University of Cincinnati and Kent State University, there is one additional school with a blended online/onsite NP program:

  • Wright State University
    Campus location: Dayton, OH

    Wright State University, located in Dayton, offers students the opportunity to pursue a master of science in nursing (MSN) with a focus on family care. Applicants should note, however, that this is a hybrid program; while the concentration can be completed online, all students must visit the campus five times during online study for orientation and for final examinations and OSCE standardized patients at the culmination of each term.

    In its 2018 rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked the MSN at Wright State 115th in the country among similar programs, and the DNP 116th, highlighting the quality of these degrees. Overall, the school was ranked 168th in the publication’s 2017 rankings for the Best in Nursing Category.

Complete List Of Online NP Programs In Ohio

Degree Level
School Type

Ohio NP Practice Environment: Reduced Practice

Lastly, one of the major challenges facing nurse practitioners today is whether or not they operate in a full practice environment. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (2016) has an interactive map showing the NP practice authority in each US state. According to the OH Nurse Practice Act, OH NPs operate in a reduced practice capacity, or one which “reduces the ability of nurse practitioners to engage in at least one element of NP practice.” Furthermore, “state law requires a regulated collaborative agreement with an outside health discipline in order for the NP to provide patient care or limits the setting or scope of one or more elements of NP practice.” Therefore NPs in OH cannot legally practice to the full extent of their education, despite the mounting evidence that NPs produce quality and cost-effective care.

The Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses (OAAPN) reported that House Bill 216 was signed in January 2017, establishing two licenses for advanced practice nurses: an RN license and a certified nurse practitioner (CNP) license. It set the requirements for the renewal of these licenses, including completing 48 hours of continuing education every two years (12 of which must be in pharmacology). Most importantly, the CNP license gives prescriptive authority without the oversight of a collaborating physician, effective April 2017. It also allows APRNs who are registered with the DEA to prescribe schedule 2 medications to people in assisted living facilities. The standard care arrangement (SCA) has also been updated so it doesn’t require regular reviews.

Overall, while the efforts to expand the practice authority of OH NPs continue, it’s still a political battle and begs the participation of all people affected, including patients, NPs, and community activists.